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Rebuilding Iraq

On Boylston Street, protest is a mix of old and new voices

By Corey Dade, Globe Staff, 3/21/2003

    Rebuilding Iraq


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The aftermath of warThe aftermath
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They pumped their fists and stuck out their chests against the war on Iraq in the classic sort of civil disobedience for which Boston is known. All the way down Boylston Street and on to City Hall, they reveled in their right to agitate, bringing with them not only the chants of seasoned social activism but of other dissenters as well. Mixed in with the rhetoric of the graybeards of 1960s-era demonstrations were fresh voices from otherwise disparate corners of Greater Boston that came together yesterday against the war.

Tom Butler, 73, retired professor:

Loyalty has driven much of Butler's life. As the first generation of a family of Irish immigrants born in America, he joined the Army "because I just thought that's what you did. I owed a great deal to this country."

He served in the Korean War. But over the years, something changed in him. He came to regret not taking a stand against Vietnam. Butler, a retired Slavic languages instructor, joined the marchers yesterday in a grandfatherly stroll alongside the roiling twenty-somethings on Boylston Street yesterday.

"It took me a long time to learn. I felt a strong loyalty to this country and I still do, but this war is a crime," he said. "Our nation has become dark. We've become a militaristic nation and one of big business. There is such an arrogance to this [Bush administration] power."

Salamishah Tillet, 27, graduate student, Harvard University:

An African-American, she said few global causes have greater impact on her and her peers than war, given that blacks and Hispanics constitute significant percentages of US enlisted troops on the front lines.

"On behalf of the hip-hop generation, I feel this is our moment of awakening to be more politically active," said Tillet. "Even though today is a day to feel powerless about what's going on, it's also a day when I feel more connected than ever to the rest of the globe, with protests going on all over the world."

Travis Minor, 16, student, Concord Carlisle High School:

The clock struck 11 a.m., and Minor got up and strode out of class. It was his own form of protest. He boarded the T for Boston, and arrived at Copley Square. Among the college students milling about the courtyard beside Trinity Church, many of them regulars of the social protest circuit, Travis's was the fresh face.

Picketing was new to the 16-year-old, but he looked the part, sporting a pair of baggy, beige camouflage shorts with patches of peace signs sewn in.

"I don't have any particular political affiliation," said Travis, holding a sign that read "Money for Jobs, Not for War." "But I think the war is merely a plan to divert attention from the real problems in America and the world."

Tim McCarthy, lecturer, Harvard University:

As a teacher of American protest movements, McCarthy canceled classes yesterday and encouraged his students to first take to Harvard Yard, where he was one of the speakers against the war, then move on to Boston.

"America is a protest nation. We believe very strongly in being out here putting action to words," he said. "The case has already been made that Saddam Hussein is an evil tyrant. But the case has not been made that he poses a significant threat to the United States. What Bush is doing destabilizes us and puts American citizens at risk around the world."

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